Love handles, muffin tops, and cankles are words typically associated with overweight bodies. However, there’s one that is often left out: vegan.
Perhaps, a reason why excess weight isn’t typically associated with veganism is that the concept is so closely associated with health that it doesn’t belong in this pile of “unhealthy” words. Or, maybe we simply have a misconstrued image of what veganism looks like all together.
Singer, songwriter, and vegan Lizzo seems to think so.
Long-time self-proclaimed practitioner of radical self-love, Lizzo once again addressed body critics in a TikTok detailing her vegan diet.
“What I Eat in a Day: Tales From a Fat Vegan,” displays Lizzo’s meals from vegan protein shakes to fries loaded with vegan cheese. Her inspiration: “fat queens need to represent.”
She’s not the only one who noticed a disparity in the vegan community, and the body commentary Lizzo fights isn’t limited to those putting themselves in the spotlight. Writer and vegan Gillian Fisher details her experience as a “fat vegan” in her metro article, explaining her battle against size exclusivity, especially in the vegan community.
“At last year’s London VegFest I was actually asked if I thought I was a good role-model for future vegans at my size,” she said, remembering one of many judgements she’s faced for not prescribing to the look of a ‘typical’ vegan.
But what even is the typical “vegan body?”
Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster argues that there’s not one shape for a healthy body. “Research shows that stigmatizing weight actually leads to worse outcomes for mental and physical health.” In fact, the belief that there is one healthy body type can have damaging effects, with some doctors advising overweight patients to lose weight while missing proper diagnoses.
The movement to destigmatize weight doesn’t end with Lizzo. Others have noticed the disparity and are starting to take matters into their own hands — and brands. Andy Tabar, co-host of The Bearded Vegans Podcasts, started the Compassion Co., an ethical clothing company that sizes up to a 4x. He hopes to include an even wider range of sizes and is currently researching ways to expand his sizes through ethical production.
Tabar told VegNews that he realized that a lot of fat people who care about animals didn’t think veganism fits them because they didn’t match the typical vegan body. Others, like Chelsea Lincoln, founder of the Fat Vegan Voice platform, have started to fight back. These platforms that celebrate body diversity through size inclusivity, ally education and support have started to raise awareness for creating a more inclusive vegan community.
As for a vegan body, Fisher summarizes by saying, “The fact is, veganism is not a diet, as my size 20 trousers can firmly attest to. It’s a lifestyle which aims to boycott all animal agriculture. Should having a muffin top really mean my ethics are called into question?”